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Bar Boulud


1900 Broadway, near 64th St.
Phone: (212) 595-0303
Dinner: Sun.-Thurs., 5-11 p.m; Fri. & Sat., 5 p.m.- midnight; Lunch: Mon.-Fri.,
noon-3:30 p.m.
Cuisine: Contemporary French.
Vibe: Bustling wine bar.
Occasion: Charcuterie quest; casual UWS dinner.
Don’t Miss Dish: Pate grand-mere; braised flatiron steak.
Price: Appetizers, $8-$18; entrees, $17-$28; desserts, $6-$12.
Reservations: Highly recommended.

Chef Daniel Boulud’s new French bistro, which opened across from
Lincoln Center, is unlike any other Boulud production. This is the
iconic chef’s answer to Manhattan’s demand for informal wine bars. His
talent for producing outstanding French cuisine is matched by equally
impeccable service (Daniel, Café Boulud).

At Daniel (his haute flagship), servers glide gracefully through the
dining room. At Bar Boulud, they frantically weave through the narrow
quarters, crowded with oenophiles, locals and Boulud devotees. Guests
swarm the hostess stand; the less desirable front dining room becomes a
makeshift waiting area for those eager to feast on charcuterie,
displayed in a glass counter that runs the length of the 100-seat

As for the charcuterie, there’s a stunning roster of pâtés and
terrines to be had. Charcutier Sylvain Gasdon delivers exquisitely rich
pâtés, stocked with ground pork. The pâté grand-mère gets its rustic
sweetness from chicken liver and cognac, while the pâté grand-père gets
more opulent seasonings of truffle juice, foie gras and port. The
terrines all emerge as savory mosaics that nearly transport you to the
countryside of France. Among the stockpiles of charcuterie, my favorite
was a juicy truffled sausage laced with pistachio and tucked into a
warm brioche.

The wine list proffers a robust and affordable selection of
reds by the glass that deftly harness the richness of the charcuterie.
Subtle décor gestures, such as white oak tables, limestone floors and a
vaulted ceiling are meant to evoke a wine cellar. Though wine plays a
prominent role in all aspects of the restaurant, the bistro menu tends
to lean too heavily on red wine for flavor. Both a mushroom-stuffed
skate and an entree of salmon registered only their heavy-handed sauces
of Syrah.

Many of executive chef Damian Sansonetti’s classic bistro
staples were surprisingly undistinguished. Neither a standard issue
steak frites nor an underwhelming coq au vin, scattered with lardons
and button mushrooms, was particularly compelling. The escargot was
afflicted by a runny persillade (parsley and garlic) and a mismatched
tomato garnish. Even a steak tartar, made with topnotch Black Angus
sirloin, tasted underseasoned and ordinary.

But Bar Boulud’s fancified version of “fish and chips” raises
the bar: Silky grouper gets a crispy exterior and an inventive pairing
with root vegetable chips. A tangy mustard sauce is the crowning touch
on this dynamic plate. An excellent braised flatiron steak is plated
over a fluffy carrot mousseline and sweet onion confit. A house-made
linguine emerges terrifically light on its feet. It gets a briny
sprinkling of razor clams, cuttlefish and olives, then is glossed in a
white wine sauce with bright strides of lemon.

Unfortunately, bold flavor combinations and inspired dishes
are a rare event. The bustle of the dining room and unreliable service
make for an exhausting dining experience. Trying to place an order can
feel a bit like hailing a taxi in a thunderstorm. Nonetheless, the
charcuterie and terrific wine list alone are worth braving the mobs
that are currently descending on the upper West Side eatery. In Daniel
Boulud’s indisputably talented hands, there’s little doubt that Bar
Boulud will rise to the occasion.

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